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Increased cooperation between countries in developing regulation of online pharmacies is needed, according to the authors of a new report, “Online pharmacy operations and distribution of medicines”, published by FIP today.
The report, produced by FIP’s Community Pharmacy Section, presents the findings of a global survey of pharmacy organisations on a wide variety of aspects of online pharmacy, including the types of medicines these pharmacies supply in different countries, how the authenticity of online pharmacies can be verified, and the usage of e-prescriptions and shared patient health records.
Of the 79 countries responding to the survey, 51% said that no regulation of online pharmacies exists. Although online pharmacies offer convenience of increased access to medicines and services, a lack of regulation or lack of enforcement of regulation creates an avenue for illegal pharmacies and may impact the overall quality of medicines and services offered to consumers, the authors point out. “Online pharmacies have now been around for over 20 years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly shifted the e-commerce landscape, including in the pharmacy sector. It is likely that changed preferences for online services will remain and the importance of online pharmacies will continue to grow. It is important for health professionals to ensure consumers are informed and empowered to make good decisions related to the use of online pharmacies,” said Lars-Åke Söderlund, immediate past president of FIP’s Community Pharmacy Section and co-editor of the report.
“This report on online pharmacies is part of FIP’s programme of work on digital pharmacy practice. It aims to support developments necessary for our profession to continue providing quality health care — medicines and services, online or in a brick-and-mortar pharmacy — to meet evolving demands,” said FIP CEO Catherine Duggan.